- While there might be an application fee, there should never be a fee to apply. If anyone asks you to send money just to get an application, be suspicious and don’t send any money.
- Always meet the rental agent and see your potential new home in person. In fact, your potential new landlord or their agent should also want to meet you in person. If the landlord does not ask to meet you or won’t agree to meet with you at your request, then this is also a red flag and again, don’t send any money until you meet.
- Again, if you are communicating with someone over social media, ask them questions not only about the house but about themselves as well. Ask them, do they have a website, and how many houses they have for rent. Do they have lead paint certificates, housing inspection certificates, or rental registration certificates? Ask them if they own the house. Ask them if they have a real estate license. Ask them how long they have been renting properties or have been in the business. Ask them for their phone number or email address. If they do, pay attention to the phone number, is it a local phone number? Ask them what the application fee covers – criminal check, background check, credit check? Many cities or states have laws on application fees. Check with your local or state officials or housing departments on those rules. Ask them how this information will be collected and stored to prevent identity theft and protect your privacy.
- Most of the time, individuals are scammed because they are desperate to move or change residences for many different reasons. It is this pressure that rent scammers are looking to take advantage of. The best way to protect yourself is to understand your current lease, how to exit or end your lease in a legal manner, and to give yourself enough time to find another place.
- And as always, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Understand the rents in the area. In the attached picture, the advertisement says a 3-bedroom house for $800.00. In this area, homes start at least $1100 per month. A 3-bedroom home could average $1,500.00 per month.